Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Faith and Belief Again
(Note: this should be read in sync with yesterday's blog.)
Mark Randall "Mack" Wolford, pastor of House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, was passionate about handling snakes during worship services. Wolford, 44, died May 27, about eight hours after being bitten by one of his poisonous yellow timber rattlesnakes during an outdoor Sunday service at a wildlife park about 60 miles from the House of the Lord Jesus church, where his funeral was held this past Saturday.
Despite his agonizing death – Wolford had refused medical help, choosing to battle the venomous attack from home as he had done many times before – and the similar death of his serpent-handling father nearly 30 years ago. Wolford's mother indicated to The Washington Post that her faith had not been shaken. "It's still the Word, and I want to go on doing what the Word says," Vicie Hicks Haywood told the publication days after witnessing her son's death. --Washington Post
Do you admire such staunch belief? I do not. I consider it the height of pride and/or greed to maintain a belief without question.
Those in America today who are anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-climate change consensus, anti-stem cell research, anti-neuroscience, anti-feminist, anti-gay, anti-government because they are stuck in their firm, rigid religious or political beliefs are exemplars of faithlessness.
Those religionists or politicos who believe in the divinity or infallibility of images, words, doctrines, organizations, books, formula, theories are exemplars of faithlessness.
Faith is the desire to subject one's beliefs to critique. It is the willingness to be swayed by evidence and ongoing inquiry. It is the readiness to transcend oneself and one's products. It is openness to the infinite.
Faith is active and requires no deus-ex-machina drop from the heavens to solve our problems. Those who think we can waste the earth and its resources without consequences because someone else or God will help us, are faithless. But so are those who believe in inevitable progress without limits and the ultimate perfectability of humankind waiting at the end of the rainbow.
Faith is engagement with others to know as much as possible about a problem, to test projected solutions, to eventually solve the problem though the application of reasonable and reason-filled human labor, and to consider the new problems that have emerged with the solution.
While faith requires no miracles, it makes them happen. Since imagination, inquiry, insight, and judgment invites new possibilities never before imagined and so break the predictable patterns of nature. Hope requires faith as does love.
Being faithful requires seeing the inadequacy of these very words.